Back on the Trail: Meeting the Future of Family Medicine

Last year I “traveled the trail” with MAFP, visiting practicing family physicians in all ten MAFP geographic districts, learning about their day-to-day joys and woes as they care for Missourians in the diverse ways family docs do. As I prepared to summarize my findings to MAFP and it’s Board of Directors, however, I realized there was an entire population of Missouri’s family doctors with whom I had failed to speak – it’s future family docs!  How embarrassing! I’m in medical education yet had not mindfully solicited the voice of Missouri’s medical students and family medicine residents. So this year, I’m hitting the trail again, this time to join Kathy Pabst and MAFP staff as they visit Missouri’s medical schools and residencies to speak on organized medicine.

In mid-October we headed back to District 8, where we hosted lunch for Cox Family Medicine Residency in Springfield and facilitated an early evening conversation for a group of students interested in family medicine on the Farber-McIntire campus of KCU-Joplin medical school. And in late October, we visited my own residency, Mercy Family Medicine St. Louis, in my home District 3.

I presented the same report I had given the MAFP Board in June 2019 before asking these training family docs the same questions I had asked community family docs last year:

  1. What are you, your medical school or your residency doing so well that you think every medical student or school or resident or residency in Missouri should replicate it?
  2. What barriers are you experiencing as you learn to provide family care in Missouri?
  3. In what ways can MAFP support you, your educators or your patients?

Like their community colleagues, training physicians noted that any program that improved their patients’ access to primary care also increased their personal joy. Similarly, they noted frustrating barriers for their patients such as food insecurity or limited resources for people without health insurance.

Interestingly, both medical students and residents perceived that the earlier their clinical experiences occurred in medical school, the happier and more resilient they felt later in training. They suggested pairing first-year medical students with MAFP members so learners could obtain clinical experience as soon as possible in training. I will bring this feedback to the Education Commission at it’s November meeting.

I look forward to visiting with additional learning family docs through the year! I think having a family doc present with MAFP staff enriched the visit and hope to explore ways that a local MAFP director can be present with MAFP staff in visits in future years. If your medical school or residency has not yet scheduled your 2019-20 visit from MAFP, please email or call 573-635-0830!